In a move that surprised the political class from Washington to New York, Hudson Valley Congresswoman Nita Lowey said Thursday she will not seek re-election. The Democrat from the 17th District that includes all of Rockland County and part of Westchester has been in Congress since 1989. Lowey spoke with WAMC’s Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Allison Dunne about her decision.
Pundits posit that perhaps Lowey wanted to exit on a high note, or potentially avoid a primary challenge from the left, like the 2018 primary in which Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated longtime Congressman Joe Crowley. Lowey sticks with her own reason.
Lowey appeared with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in August 2017 to mark the opening of the first span of the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. Then, as ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, Lowey was instrumental in securing federal resources critical to moving the replacement project forward. She helped secure a $1.6 billion Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan, the largest in history, to help finance the bridge. Now, the 82-year-old is the first woman to chair the powerful House Appropriations Committee.
On her way to Congress, Lowey served in a number of positions in New York state government, including as assistant secretary of state under Governor Mario Cuomo. More recently, she tried to help fully restore the state and local tax deduction that was curtailed by federal tax legislation President Trump signed in December 2017. She reintroduced bipartisan legislation in January this year. Some 45 percent of taxpayers in her 17th District rely on the SALT deduction. In late September, a district court dismissed a lawsuit by New York and other states challenging the SALT cap.
Along with the news of Lowey’s retirement came speculation about who may run for her seat. There is talk of Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton perhaps running for the seat, along with some assemblymembers. State Senator David Carlucci issued a statement late Thursday saying he is seriously considering applying his experience and passion for public service to fight on behalf of the people of the 17th district. Lowey is staying out of it for now.
“I’m sure there’ll be many candidates who are thinking about running, who will run, and I don’t have an opinion,” says Lowey.
Over the summer, Rockland native Mondaire Jones announced what he thought would be a primary challenge to Lowey. He served in the Obama Administration in the Office of Legal Policy at the Department of Justice.